Winter storm in Washington DC brings snow and grounds Biden’s helicopter

A winter storm packing heavy snow blew into Washington DC di lunedi, closing government offices and schools and grounding the president’s helicopter. As much as 10in of snow was forecast for the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and central Maryland through the afternoon.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the area until 4pm ET. Wind gusts of up to 35mph were forecast and travel was expected to be very difficult because of the hazardous conditions, the weather service said.

“The timing of this isn’t great,” said NWS meteorologist David Roth. “For the DC area, it’s morning rush hour. At least for places to the north-east, it’ll be closer to midday.”

More than half of flights were delayed or canceled at Ronald Reagan National Airport, Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, according to FlightAware.com. A quarter of flights at New York’s three major airports were delayed or canceled too.

The snow grounded Joe Biden’s helicopter so he drove to the White House from Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland after a weekend in Delaware. With snow blanketing the streets, the White House Press briefing was canceled, although Biden’s other public events were still on.

The Weather Prediction Center said 2in of snow per hour could fall in some areas, and thunder snow was possible.

Più di 500,000 were without power as the winter storm warning extended from northern Alabama and southern Tennessee through Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

Snow began falling on Sunday night in parts of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. As much as 6in accumulated in north Alabama, where authorities reported multiple roads blocked because of icy spots and wrecks, and businesses, schools and government offices delayed opening until mid-morning to allow time for temperatures to rise above freezing.

Authorities across Virginia and Maryland were reporting crashes and treacherous roads. Virginia state police urged people to travel only if necessary after responding to 82 traffic crashes as of 8am.

The largest snowfall total reported in the Baltimore-Washington region was in Augusta county, Virginia, where a trained spotter in Greenville reported 4in, according to the NWS.

Maryland state police said they responded to nine crashes, three disabled vehicles and 57 calls for service well before the heaviest snow fell. Flooding made some roads dangerous in North Carolina.

In Washington, the US Office of Personnel Management announced that federal offices would be closed. Emergency employees and telework employees were expected to keep working, the OPM said.

Many Covid testing and vaccination sites were closed in Virginia and in Maryland due to the weather. Multiple school districts said they would be closed, delayed or have virtual learning Monday. DC Public Schools said students and staff wouldn’t be returning to school until Thursday.

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